Kuwait Metro Ridership

By November 5, 2009 18 Comments

It seems the initial success and glow of Dubai Metro has breathed new life into our own national project. Let’s hope for their continued success so that the fires of envy burn brighter and ignite real action. I keep thinking about the people that will end up using the metro. Who are they? What do they want out of a well functioning mass transit system? How can we make the design better?

Kuwait has invited consultants to express interest in its 171-kilometre metro project, MEED magazine has reported. The estimated $7bn scheme will involve building four lanes, with 60km of the network underground. The successful developer will design, build, finance, operate and maintain the metro network for an undisclosed period of time.

AMEinfo November 4th, 2009

So who rides the metro?
Hawalli residents:
There can be around 7 stops in Hawalli. That’s a fair number, but the great thing is that the Blue line and the Black line cross each other at right angles. This means that pedestrian development and density in Hawalli won’t be restricted to a linear path. The current design doesn’t make all of Hawalli entirely walkabl, but its close enough. Feeder buses can fill in the gaps. It’s important that Beirut and Tunis are well fed, but also creating a great node around Qadsiya Stadium and the new Sultan Center. I imagine that interchange would be underground and provide a subterranean link between alMuhallab, Sultan Center and the sports complex as it’s not that far between the three.
Farwaniya residents:
It’s very hard to do any better than simply following the existing road infrastructure here. The place really isn’t a destination and most of the stops are funnels for people to enter the network. The challenge and the potential here is to think of the nodes as a generator for development. Mixed use spaces at every stop can make this neglected part of the country more pleasant and livable. The area is far too big, so a network of feeder buses is definitely required to make the system functional. Seeing as how the lines follow the major roads, it won’t be hard to get that to work. It has to be cheap and easy for anyone living here to be a part of the network.
Salmiya residents:
The entire Salmiya line is underground. Several of the stops on the line are destinations as well as dense residential areas; Salmiya Park, Khansa (Restaurant Street), Amman (a hopefully pedestrianized Salem alMubarak street), Marina Mall, Scientific Center (and waterfront). This is really the jewel of the metro system. I’d add as many stops as possible, possible 4 or 5 more to the ones already on the map above. The density in Salmiya is already there and the metro will create a virtuous spiral; more people walking creates better safety and more investment, which leads to even more people walking and the cycle improves the experience indefinitely. Salmiya Park has its own private transit system, and this could be integrated with the metro to create a shortcut in the system between Marina and the southern end of the park. The good thing about Salmiya is that most of the buildings are fairly tall and shade a lot of the sidewalks, but there has to be a major investment in planting trees and cleaning up the sidewalks making them safe, pleasant and accessible to wheelchairs.
There are 5 stops at university campuses (including a stop at Mishref that can have feeder buses into the campuses there). A lot of students enjoy driving to college to show off their cars and drive around, but most people just want to get to class. Having the option of getting there without having to worry about parking is a great relief. Also, the commute allows for precious reading or relaxing time before class.
Mall hoppers:
The Avenues, Marina Mall, alMuhallab, 360, Souq Sharq and the airport all have dedicated stops. This would help weekend traffic because people would park their car at any metro stop and then hop from one mall to the next looking for where the action is. Part of the fun is in just driving around, but not everyone wants to do that and a lot of people don’t own cars. This is good for the malls and for people who want sanity on the weekend.
Office workers:
Once a significant density is achieved in the City we can talk about having people walk around from one building to the next. Every new metro stop will act as a node of development, because every building within walking distance to a stop is connected to the network; meaning office workers can walk from any building in the network to another one without having to worry about driving and parking. On the way, there can be cafes, news stands, restaurants… A real city.
Government employees:
All the major government complexes have a dedicated metro stop. This is critical for both the employees and the unfortunate souls that have to visit them. It’s common to have to from one complex to the other, and so having them all connected is better for everyone. Parking is usually a nightmare for these places, since working hours are so short and everyone is there at the same time. A metro will provide much needed relief.

The Gray Line links Jahra with Fahaheel, and everything in between. Most of the stops along that line will be Park and Ride stations. However, I also suggest a completely new line that would wrap around the dense residential areas between the first and fifth ring road. The metro stop would be underground and accessible from the shopping center of every area. The parking infrastructure is already there and every area has the ‘Jam’eiyah’ conveniently located at the center. A lot of people can walk to that, and those that don’t can drive and park there. I think this makes a lot of sense as it will allow for a much greater density within the residential areas. People just don’t seem to want to live further away but we’ve reached a limit because of the number of cars that we squeeze in. If we can build densely without having to park more cars that means that more people can live closer to their families without sacrificing quality of life.
Ridership estimate is at around 70 million per year, which comes around 200,000 per day. I think this is a very conservative estimate and I expect a fully functional, well maintained system to attract 250,000-300,000 per day (around 15% of our labor force). The value of the metro isn’t simply to generate a profit. Rather, it is in the unquantifiable benefits such as:

  • Rush hour traffic reduction
  • Cheap transportation alternative
  • Lower gasoline consumption (and more profitable exports)
  • Less pollution
  • Pedestrian culture will improve health standards
  • Fewer parking headaches
  • Create potential for greater density (more stuff in less space)
  • Ability to explore the city and discover new places
  • Greater potential for emergent nodes to flourish without the need for planned development

Join the discussion 18 Comments

  • bumo says:

    Are you officially working on the Metro project or are these your own suggestions?

  • I wish I was. No, i’m just doing this for myself. I don’t see anyone working on this publicly, and I hoped to get some kind of discussion going before the final proposal is foisted upon us.

  • bumo says:

    Ohh okay, well right now Atkins Design Studio is working on the project with the municipality and they are still in the research phase of the project. From what ive heard from a few friends of mine who are working with them conducting surveys in Kuwaiti neighborhoods is that its priced very cheap and of a very high quality. As well as that, huge project compiles Buses, a Metro and a Monorail to cover every nook an cranny on the streets.
    I like your illustrations.

  • Faisal says:

    You really ought to get in touch with Atkins. I’ve dealt with them once, they have great staff and are a great organization and am sure they’ll lend you an ear (and us too if you invite them to these discussions and include our comments).
    I can sniff around for a specific contact, bumo I assume you know someone already?

  • bumo says:

    Faisal: I head the PR committee in the Kuwait Architectural Students Association and we were recently contacted for a logo design competition as well as Atkins themselves were looking for students to hold the surveys in almost all locations in Kuwait for Kuwaitis and Non-Kuwaitis to answer. I’m not sure if i can give you anything more than an email to contact the people heading it, or maybe just a lead that might get you to Atkins. Also, I’m not sure but i think either Aljazeera Consultants or Gulf Consultants are working closely with Atkins on this project. It sounds very promising.

  • Aisha says:

    Its Atkins along with Gulf Consult. Like Bumo said, they just started conducting the research phase.

  • Tom says:

    I miss public transport, which usually was my only chance to catch up with my reading… And after sitting in a car for close to 2 hours simply to enjoy some fried liver next to Sherq-Mall, boy is Kuwait in dire need of an alternative means of transport…

  • TheK5 says:

    but like everything else, it’s probably gonna be forgotten about, and not maintained eventually turning into shaab park, khairan, everything else in q8..
    ne news about fun stuff getting built, besides that mini roller coaster 5arabeet in 360

  • BlackBarook says:

    Do they have any intention to have subways in every hood, in the central market area, and than link them all to each other?

  • khalid says:

    hmmm walla it is a gd thing to do!
    thn o ur plans great

  • bumo says:

    The value of the metro isn’t simply to generate a profit.
    I think the biggest value the whole country will gain is the inexplicable efficiency that will arise from the metro. Not only will it create an affordable and fast transit system that is in itself efficient, but that system will create an efficient society. It will be the most valuable part of this country’s infrastructure once complete.

  • Ahmed Kar says:

    Hi my name is Ahmed, a U.S. graduate majored in Urban/regional/Community Planning (i know its long), and minored in Architectural Design Technology. I am the first person to graduate with this major as a Kuwaiti, and i thought it was a good thing until i came here.
    Kuwait do not know what i am, what i do, or what my major is, we dont even have An Urban Planning Council yet, abu dhabi has one thought. We dont even have a comprehensive plan that we should follow (20 years, 30 years plan), all what we have is 5 years, and we dont even follow that, we just randomly do short range planning (problem arising, find a patch solution) which is not a plan if you ask me.
    I read some of your posts and skimmed through others, and i really like how you attack some of the issues we have, and its good to know that we have this type of mentality in Kuwait, that thinks in a larger scope i might say.
    Planners and architects have always had a continuing argument between each other of who would claim the discipline of Urban Design. well, in my personal opinion i think it belongs to both of us, working collaboratively side by side.
    Urban Planners are taught to understand, analyze, and influence the variety of forces – social, economic, political, legal, historical, ecological, cultural,
    and aesthetic, among others – shaping the built environment. We
    understand these forces through deep immersion in the histories and theories of urban planning and urbanism as profession and phenomenon; to analyze these forces through intelligent application of qualitative, quantitative, and visual techniques; and to influence these forces through technical facility and creative interventions involving laws,
    institutions, the economy, politics, and design.
    So you can see now the large scope we have to deal with. Please do not understand me wrong, i actually wanted to be an architect by i got to be a planner, go figure, but we should work together, i need you eyes to see and analyze aesthetics for its better than mine in this issue, and you need my large perspective into dealing with such issues.
    What would work in kuwait, Smart Growth? Urban Villages? New Urbanism? Efficient public transportation system? integrating GIS? Sustainable Communities? etc… And if we chose one solution or a bunch of solutions, why dont we use the others? what would work in kuwait, and what will not? what did work in the past? what failed in the past? Should make citizens participate in the planning process? Can we put efficiency aside, and do cost effective less time plans? where do you see kuwait in 20 years, and what would be the population, kuwaitis and non kuwaities, males and females, and HOW CAN WE HOUSE THOSE PEOPLE? Will kuwaities welcome the changes? How can we deal with this? ………………..
    You see those question, and i can go on and on and on and on, need to be addressed, analyzed and studied before we take any single step. Lets stop the randomness of this process that is causing kuwait to deteriorate. It wont be easy, or have quick results, by my friend, good things take time, even if it was 50 years, and thats what a comprehensive plan is, and that is what we do.
    Again, you guys have an amazing ideas and way of thinking, i hope you keep it up.
    Be safe, and be Green.
    I am Ahmed Kar, and I approve this message.

  • Jasem Nadoum says:

    Hey Ahmed, Thank you for your contribution and comment. How about we sit, if you’re interested of course, and discuss your thoughts and idea’s in depth with us on an ongoing project we at reKuwait are taking now, considering Salem AlMubarak st.
    Just a thought.

  • Ahmed: Welcome to the blog 🙂 The country’s changing, and as an urban planner you would know that planning takes a long time to come about. Kuwait actually has an urban plan for the next 20 years. This urban change is pretty new to Kuwait, it needs to be studied and designed well.
    I’d like though to ask you about your major. How well is it appreciated in firms? I’m thinking of Masters in Urban/regional planning would you recommend it?

  • Ahmed Kar says:

    Jasem: I would love that. its weird i actually have been thinking bout that area quite a lot lately. Let me know when and where, or give me a call at 99805890.
    Amenah: I would highly recommend the Masters, personally right now i am in the process of applying to 7 graduate schools hoping to start my graduate degree by next august. Urban Planning has been voted best job of 2009, mainly because in the next 7 years there will be a sharp increasing demand for urban planners. Entry level jobs almost all require masters degree or a good long working experience. The growing awareness of urban planning is increasing comparing it with the past.
    There is 15 undergraduate approved programs and 65 graduate for Urban Planning, most of them can be studied alone, or with a joint masters degree in architecture, civil engineering, transportation engineering.

  • q8life says:

    Good to see that the young Kuwaiti generation is getting concerned about what needs to be developed in terms of infrastructure in Kuwait, that can not only make living better, but also change the landscape to a better and modern futuristic one for our the next generation to admire.
    Some of the projects like the Mass Rapid Transport system needs to be developed rapidly. This should make the no. of private cars less on the road and make the residents use more of the public transport.
    An efficient and convenient MRTS can change the living conditions for the better.
    Also considering the harsh climatic conditions, proper arrangements needs to be in place for the people to have a comfortable journey.
    For eg the pedestrian walkovers need to be covered.
    Cheers & keep up the good work.

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